I have plenty of guilt when it comes to raising my kids. I may lose my temper, say something the wrong way or be completely dismissive (not on purpose of course). But the mind of a child is so different from that of an adult and even though I was obviously once a child, I find it hard to “put myself in my son’s shoes” and imagine his thought process or what could have led him to a particular decision. But honestly, all that guilt I feel is nothing compared to that when I am a working mother or even a SAHM.
The diagram I posted was one that I had originally posted on my Facebook. It really hit home. To me, this diagram shows that whether you are a working mom or stay at home mom, you may feel overwhelming guilt. When I was working I’d feel bad that I was missing time with my kids. But now that I’m a SAHM, I feel guilty that I’m staying at home with my children and not bringing in any sort of income to help pay for bills. I also feel guilty when I have an “off” day or unmotivated week and don’t do much around the house. I’m not working and can’t even manage to get the house clean some days.
Other days my children may watch a lot of TV or color and such, inside, as I sometimes cannot pull myself together to take my children on an outing. Some days it’s just hard to put on a smile for them. But while I was working, I would have to call into work because of my mental health, because I was burnt out from trying to do it all. But with staying at home with your children, you don’t get that luxury. There’s nobody to call in to.
Fact of the matter is – I am constantly feeling guilty about not doing enough, no matter what position I am in. I know that constant mom-guilt is a thing, but I don’t think it is a major topic of conversation and it should be. I know that there are other moms out there that feel exactly as this diagram shows and as I do. We are continuously trying to keep up with everything in our lives and sometimes we don’t give ourselves enough credit.
I could look at the circumstance I’m in and say that I’m very fortunate to stay home with my children (because I am). BUT – I also put added stress on my husband/family for not working and bringing in any money to help pay our very past-due bills. We are months behind on some payments while others we are on time.
Prioritizing which bill we could get away with paying late, was never something I imagined would be apart of our monthly routine – but here we are. However, I get to see my children grow and I get to see so many moments I would have missed should I have been working. And to me, that’s priceless. There is no amount of money that I feel would be acceptable to mother my children. It’s not something you are paid for or even praised for, as it’s your motherly duty to raise your children and help your family grow together and that’s what everyone expects.
I think some people have this notion of what I like to call an “old-school” view on stay at home mothers. They have this image in their head that mothers are caretakers for not only their children but their house as well (sole cooker, cleaner, fixer-upper etc). I do a lot of cleaning up on a weekly (and sometimes daily basis) and I do all the yard work/weeding/mowing etc. Gardening is something I love to do and it makes me feel accomplished when I can look at what I’ve done in beauty.
But I don’t always keep up with it. Sometimes I fall behind and the dishes pile up or the pile of clothes turn into Mount Washmore. And the guilt I feel is astounding. I mean I’m just home with the kids all day. Theres no reason to fall behind on house chores, right? I’ll tell you now – that’s wrong. There are literally infitine reasons as to why things don’t always get taken care of or resolved in a “timely manner”. Life is unpredictable and just because we may stay at home with our children – does not mean we are immune to everything coming at us from outside or home.
My husband has been supportive in the realm of my professional world and which job I choose to pursue (or none at all, currently). He even helps me out with chores around the house to the point where I feel even more guilty. I feel like I should be able to do this all on my own, as I’m home all day. I don’t want him to lift a finger, as his job is physically demanding – but he does it anyway. Even when I tell him not to.
But we are a team right? We help each other. We make up for some things that I (or my husband) may be lacking in particular areas. He may hate cutting the grass, so I do it. Just like I hate cleaning the litter box, so he does it. We come to compromises and realize that we each have off days sometimes. That’s okay. Nobody is perfect.
For mothers that have a full time job and are going to school and are trying to take care of the kids and the house, etc…. it can just all become too much too fast. A job can be enough to make our mental health deteriorate, throwing kids and school and everything else in the mix can be a recipe for disaster. It’s important that we pay attention to our bodies signals and emotions to help us keep on track for a healthy mind and family.
I ignored the signs last December and ended up in inpatient, as some of you know. It wasn’t the job alone or my kids alone or the commute alone – it was a combination of everything. I was trying to do too much, as mothers often do. Most mothers have a good “motherly” instinct, it’s important not to ignore that.
Whether you be working a full time job and trying to balance the family/home life or staying at home with your children and trying to balance the finances and your sanity, mom-guilt is real. We always feel like we should be doing more, but that’s because we so often dismiss what we have already done. We have brought life into this world. We are loving our children and helping them grow. We are getting up everyday to fight the challenges in our own home and the world. Don’t forget to give yourself some credit. If you’re trying – you’re not falling short.